Little did we know the importance of a decent home office desk – until we were all working from home.
Since the pandemic and lockdown, we’ve had to become creative with setting up a workstation that both satisfies our nine-to-five needs and complements our existing decor. Indeed, a desk in the domestic sphere should earn its place on the design front, otherwise we’re simply recreating that clinical office look at home.
Finding the right desk, whether you’re setting it up in the bedroom, corner of the living room, or dedicated study space, can be a tall order with plenty to think about – from added storage to the appropriate seating that goes with it.
Think about size, shape and functionality. For some homeworkers, a paper-thin laptop is all that’s needed, while others are drowning in physical paperwork and will be thankful for integrated storage by way of drawers and shelves.
It’s well documented that a clean and well-organised desk comes with a wealth of stress-reducing, productivity-increasing benefits, so consider, too, the need to hide away cables to keep the look as clean-lined and clutter-free as possible.
We put our best homeworking desks to the test, looking for top craftsmanship and quality of materials along with ease of functionality given their daily, heavy use. We also weighed up affordability with space-saving properties.
Above all, though, we focused on the best designs on the market because, boring spreadsheets aside, a home desk should be a stylish furniture piece to feel proud of.
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John Lewis & Partners X frame desk, natural/green
Dimensions: H74cm x W135cm x D62cm
Just looking at this desk offers a sense of calm, thanks to its beautifully smooth pale wood and gently curved lines – it is a furniture piece that lends itself perfectly to clear-headed homeworking. One for fans of Scandi-minimalism, the stylish workstation is well-crafted from solid oak with veneers and has a lovely natural grain. We loved the contrast between the oak and the linoleum top in sage green, another borrow from nature’s palette. The X-framed desk doesn’t offer an enormous amount of storage but the handy side drawers are generously sized.
Umage ambitions desk
Dimensions: H72cm x W100cm x D60cm
Another desk that plays with contrasts is this versatile number from Danish brand Umage. Clean-lined and contemporary in its shaping, we found this slimline workstation to be a shrewd space-saver. But don’t be fooled by its skinny silhouette: this one is all about the secret storage. Not only does the front of the desk extend outward to reveal a hidden drawer but the winged white edges open up smoothly to uncover further storage space for stationery, keeping the top clutter-free. The desk is beautifully crafted from solid oak, plywood veneer and steel.
West Elm Audrey desk
Dimensions: H75cm x W132cm x D61cm
Doubling up as a stylish console table is this glamorous but refined three-drawer desk. It’s ideal if your living room and workspace are interchangeable – there’s nothing office-like about this one. The body of the desk is made from lacquered engineered wood, and that’s supported by slender metal legs in an antique brass finish (read tasteful, not gaudy). We loved the textured geometric detailing on the front of the drawers – an understated nod to Art Deco design. And on the practical side, the deep drawers offer plenty of storage space and open and close with a pleasing, soft gliding action.
Oak Furnitureland Copenhagen natural solid oak desk
Dimensions: H85cm x W145cm x D60cm
If storage is a priority, Oak Furnitureland’s offering has oodles of it. Part of the new Copenhagen range, the desk features six compartments by way of sizable drawers and cupboard space. As with any of the brand’s furniture pieces we’ve tested, we found it to be reliably solid with high quality craftsmanship on show. It’s made from 100 per cent solid oak, including the back and inner drawers. Timeless in design, this one will fit into any interior scheme. We loved its discreet recessed handles – the attractive wood grain isn’t overshadowed by distracting drawer knobs.
Urbansize oak floating desk
Dimensions: H20cm x W90cm x D30cm
Who needs legs anyway? Urbansize is a brand that specialises in nifty space-saving furniture pieces made with cramped city-dwellers in mind. The floating desk is an ingenious little number that maximises on floor space and allows for your stool or small office chair to tuck in neatly underneath. One for the occasional home-worker on a laptop, the desk fixes flush to the wall but there’s the option of discreet brackets if you’re after some additional support – clearly you don’t want to put too much weight on it. The double drawered unit is made from 100 per cent solid oak and is finished in a light oil that brings out the natural grain.
Vox Lori desk with storage in graphite
Dimensions: H78cm x W135cm x D60cm
Top marks for versatility goes to Polish brand Vox for its contemporary Lori desk, which allowed us to add on wooden drawers and storage boxes to suit our home office needs. The body of the desk is crafted from melamine with a chic graphite finish, while the smooth pole-like legs are an attractive pale pine. We loved this one for its clever design and functionality. A discreet trough at the back on the desk hides unsightly cables; the open storage boxes which slide across the length of the desk can be stacked; and there’s the option of adding up to three drawers. But be warned: these add-on storage bits are sold separately meaning the price of the unit will go up steeply.
La Redoute Noya vintage desk, walnut
Dimensions: H110cm x W93cm x D51cm
This charming little writer’s desk won us over for its cute partition panels. It’s crafted from solid oak and oak veneered MDF, finished with a rich walnut stain, while the panels are made from rattan cane. With its distinct mid-century aesthetic, this is one for vintage lovers looking for a diminutive workstation – but nonetheless, one with big impact. Don’t expect too much in the way of storage – the drawer is slimline, but it does extend to the full width of the unit. Fix it to the wall with hidden brackets for a snug fit.
Argos Home ladder office desk, white
Dimensions: H179.5cm x W65cm x D40cm
This affordable ladder-style unit combines desk space with handy shelving. As it’s only 65cm wide, it saves on precious floor space but what it lacks in width it more than makes up for in height: the upper shelves are ideal for storing the books and notepads you need close by for work and better still, a trailing house plant will create a homely look. The desk section consists of a single drawer unit, offering nifty storage space. Make sure this one is securely fastened to the wall to avoid topples.
The verdict: Desks
John Lewis & Partners’ X frame desk got our vote for its top craftsmanship and materials, and its easy-on-the-eye design. It is on the pricier side but we think it’s well worth the investment given its daily use in our new home office set-up. Argos Home’s ladder office desk, on the other hand, offers an affordable workstation that also plays to the clean-lined Scandi trend, without breaking the bank.
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